John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 48

*Restrain them from Evil

“The Lord disciplines those he loves.”

Hebrews 12:6 NIV

What can we do that all our household may serve the Lord? May we not endeavor, first, to restrain them from all outward sin—from taking the name of God in vain and doing needless work on the Lord’s Day? Those you hire may be restrained by argument or persuasion, but if they will not yield, they must be dismissed, be it ever so inconvenient.

Your spouse cannot be dismissed, except for adultery. In other cases, what can be done if open sin is habitual? All that can be done is done partly by example, partly by argument or persuasion, as dictated by Christian prudence. If evil ever can be overcome, it must be by good. We cannot beat the devil with his own weapons. If this evil cannot be overcome by good, we are called to suffer it. When God sees it to be best, He will remove it. Meantime, continue in earnest prayer; in due time, he will either take the temptation away or make it a blessing to your soul.

While your children are young, you may restrain them from evil by advice, persuasion, and reproof, and also by correction. Only remember, this means is to be used last—after all others have been tried and found ineffectual. All should be done with mildness and with kindness. Otherwise, your own spirit suffers loss and the child reaps little advantage. Only do not think yourself wiser than God. He said, “Chasten…while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Proverbs 19:18 KJV).

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this forty-eighth lesson on prayer, Wesley examines what it means to be an overseer or pastor of one’s home. The lesson brings out many positive actions that can seen in Paul’s pastoral letters. Let us examine a few of these and make a correlation.

In Titus 1:7-9, Paul says,
7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not selfwilled, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (NASB).

The same character traits Paul lays out here for a church pastor are applicable to the leader of a household so that he may exhort in sound doctrine and refute falsehood if necessary.

Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (NASB).

Wesley brings this out in saying, “In other cases, what can be done if open sin is habitual? All that can be done is done partly by example, partly by argument or persuasion, as dictated by Christian prudence. If evil ever can be overcome, it must be by good.”

When dealing with children, Wesley says, “While your children are young, you may restrain them from evil by advice, persuasion, and reproof, and also by correction. Only remember, this means is to be used last—after all others have been tried and found ineffectual. All should be done with mildness and with kindness. Otherwise, your own spirit suffers loss and the child reaps little advantage.”

Paul, again to Timothy, in 2 Timothy 2:24-26, says,
24The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (NASB). So, I believe, in this lesson, Wesley is drawing from his own pastoral experience to show what he believes a faithful overseer in the home should be. He seems to draw from scriptural examples of church stewardship the qualities most needed to carry out home stewardship. This lesson can best be summed up with the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (NASB).   

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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